I will provide you a well known POV: There is a road, which houses the city’s most sought after coaching centers. On that road there is a loud commotion- of young teenagers. They have in their hands books and futures, on their face glasses and stress, and on their shoulders bags and responsibilities. Single out a random kid from the crowd (it won’t make much of a difference because they are now an unit) and ask him or her about their day. There is a ‘big’ probability that they have the same sort of life. Or else ask them to calculate the probability-most of them study mathematics or physics. They stick their noses in fat books all day, hardly doing anything else. Some might even be in the 6th or 7th grades, young 11-12 year olds. They are prematurely becoming like their young adult counterparts. They live for studying and study for living, preparing for competitive exams before they even start secondary school, and have decided to make this the rest of their life. But the irony? Quite a lot of them Don’t like what they are doing. They don’t like it, don’t get it, and deep inside, they don’t even want to. Crores of students seemingly have the deepest desire to pursue only a few occupations that now exist, which you can count on the fingers of one hand. But the thing is, they don’t.
They are living in compromise, and have planned to pull it off their whole lives, for just a bit of money and society -induced –‘ self satisfaction’. In many cases, there is no actual passion for the occupation per se; they just want to be in it for the hefty money packages offered to 1 out of 1000, which is a really unhealthy relationship to have with your career and future. And this is our youth, and the citizens of future India. Needless to say, we have a problem on our hands here.
Don’t get me wrong, a good education is always welcome, especially in a country like India which has to tap into the potential of its abundant and capable youth. But the problem lies not in pursuing goals or having good careers; it lies in the stress, anxiety and missing out on the beauty and enjoyment in life which so often comes as a complimentary package with ‘today’s career preparation.’ In fact, we can put it the other way round and it will sound just as meaningful, if not more. Something has to be done for the present and the future of these ‘aspirants’, which constitutes a large part of Indian youth, especially in the middle and upper-middle class groups. And for that to materialize, attention should be paid not just on the youth; but on the almost- toxic patterns that start from childhood and assert themselves in everything that comes after.
One of the major problems is the increasingly competitive nature of grades, scores and marks. They have always been there, but the competition has rapidly and suddenly increased in the last few years. Students aim for getting into the colleges and universities, which invariably have a high cutoff line and a rigorous process and preparation for admissions. A 95% is more common today than it was 20 years ago, and has surprisingly become less relevant. It is quite possible that 100% will reach the same ‘average’ status after 20 years, with students fighting to get 105% for getting in A-tier Institutes.
With grades deprecating as quickly as money, students deal with apparent stress to gain these marks at any cost. They get overworked, overwhelmed and overburdened, and if they don’t get selected, it’s over. This “ All or nothing” mentality and sense of rampant competition is being instilled in young children earlier than ever.
Speaking of young children, the school -entering age has become lower than ever. A 2 year old, or even an 18 month old, is thrust into school life when they should be playing and exploring their surroundings. Not that 2 year olds are being taught algebra or trigonometry or anything like that, but still. There is no particular reason for kids to start school at that age. No, sorry, there is- peer competition. Parents, in particular, are so anxious that their kids will miss out or be ‘left back’ in anything that they are indirectly, subtly but definitely training kids to take part in the rat race against their peers. I actually know kids who claim that they learnt math tables at age 2. Ohhhh dear.
Even in a gap of 5 years, significant changes can be observed in the syllabus. What was taught in the 5th grade 20 years ago was taught in 3rd grade 10 years ago, and now might be being taught in the 2nd grade. This is encountered by not only the parents who help kids in homework, but also by older siblings, which means that only in a span of a few years, kids are expected to learn more than kids their age did just a couple of years ago. And if kids don’t get anything, they are quickly branded as unintelligent. That is the nightmare of any school going person, isn’t it?
Homework, which, though, has always been detested by children, is becoming more detestable as it crowds their books, bags and minds. Kids have no time for hobbies, playing or just plain relaxation. And it’s quality suffers as it’s quantity doubles and quadruples. Some teachers even give questions out of the course and textbook which the students are not able to solve on their own. Others give ‘ meaningless’ and repetitive questions just for the sake of it. “ All work and no play makes Jack a Dull Boy” is something that they are taught to learn, not to apply. Success in life is reduced to becoming a washed up, sad, half hearted doctor, engineer or government servant. And before you say that these careers have ‘good income’ for ‘secure future’ let me say that not all people in the world have these occupations and they are still, you know, alive. Apart from your family doctor, electrician and prominent government figures, how many successful people do you know? Security is also about a good upbringing in a stable environment where you love what you do and do what you love, a life which actually brings satisfaction greater than monetary benefits. But nowadays everything is about security.
This has caused many students to study just because of the money, that they might not even get. I have heard a couple of these replies – who does engineering for passion? Its just for the job. You go, sit, go home, and take your cheque. Life set.
Children are taught to behave as grown ups, and young adults are kept at home and taken care of as little kids. There is no struggle. There is no learning lessons. Jobs, which were a milestone and a step towards adulthood and independence in the ‘real world’, have been reduced to a race for grades and so called ‘success’. Students are busy preparing for exams, rather than preparing for life. Coaching is not enough for approaching problems in life. Youngsters so often give up the golden time in their life. They should have fun. They should take up new interests. They should travel and see the world around them. But who has time for wasting? They live in a bubble. When they finally get the jobs or pass the exams, the bubble is popped. They have to survive and thrive in the real life, and they don’t know how to deal with it. They don’t know how to deal with pressure. Bookish knowledge does not always give wisdom. Just why the heck do you think these youngsters take steps that they shouldn’t?
My aim with this article, is not to stop students from pursuing hard courses or attending coaching classes, or turning their back on education altogether. What l want is something simple. I just want people to stop a bit, look at themselves and their children, and think about it. What you do afterwards is your own call. But, in the meantime , give it a moment’s thought. Just think about it.